What does it take to stay in business for over a century? While successful companies lasted an average of 67 years in the 1920’s, today that average is only 15 years. Companies that know what it takes to endure and to execute a company-wide vision are destined to carry on for generations – as has Rainier Industries.
We are in good company (excuse the pun!) with the likes of Coca-Cola (1902), Kellogg (1906), Dow Chemical (1897), Harley –Davidson (1903), Goodyear Tire (1898), Basset Furniture (1902) and American Greetings Corp. (1906). In fact, we’ve been in business longer than any of them … we got our start in 1896! Rainier began by providing tents and camping supplies for prospectors headed north for the Alaskan Gold Rush.
Rainier has endured wars, depressions, recessions, and grown into a legacy organization that is successful on many levels. First and foremost: our employees. We hire great people! The investment in employees is in part why we have been so successful. Pride of craftsmanship is evident in everything we do! Rainier employees are One Team. We respect each other and our customers, we are dedicated, loyal, caring, and engaged. We treat our customers how we treat family and friends. We work hard, have fun and are easy to do business with. This is part of our mission statement. Our priorities (also in our mission statement) are:
Make Customers Happy. The second reason why we have been in business so long is our ongoing relationships and partnerships with a wide variety of customers. Loyalty builds successful companies. Rainier is known for being attentive to our customer before, during, and after the sale.
Build Great Products. Keep in mind that when you purchase a yurt, you are married to that company for the next 25 – 35 years, when it comes to replacement parts such as a window or dome. Be sure to select a company that builds the highest quality product – not the cheapest price! You get what you pay for and we have helped people who bought their yurt from XYZ Yurt Company because the price was lower, only to call us after 3 years in need of a replacement roof. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “we should have just gone with Rainier in the first place!” because XYZ Yurt Company stopped answering their phone. One hundred-year-plus companies are financially stable. They experience fewer ups and downs, fewer seasonal layoffs.
Attack Waste. From the sales office to the shop floor and throughout our 144,000 square foot facility (to put that in perspective, that is the average size of a Costco Warehouse!) we have core principles that every employee lives and breathes. Waste doesn’t refer to just garbage, but includes every motion that is wasteful. For example, walking to the supply room to check on inventory when tracking it electronically is much more efficient. This efficiency means our current lead time is 4 weeks – while our competition is 12 – 13 weeks out.
Grow People. You’d be surprised to hear how many of my colleagues have been working at Rainier for 20 to 30 years! I started in 1996 – the year of our 100th anniversary. That says volumes about the company, the owners, and the managers. It also says something about the product you receive. Picture XYZ Yurt Company who makes yurts (maybe a couple of tents or tipis too) when yurt sales tend to drop off due to winter weather. Money gets tight. They are forced to lay-off the majority of their non-essential work force. In the spring they re-hire. Rainier, with our diversified product line, stays busy during the winter. Our employees enjoy the security of long-term employment and you get a true craftsman with 13 years of experience working on your yurt.
Work Safely. We have a family orientated work environment. We care about each other. This family culture also brings caring which also brings precaution and safer environments. If I see Jane lifting something that looks too heavy – I will approach her and ask if I can help. When I give tours, we are often in the busy aisle where forklifts and production carts run. I can communicate non-verbally to the forklift driver where I am taking my guests to ensure their safety. He signals back with three toots of his horn and we are all safely on our way. Some areas of the shop floor require safety glasses and ear plugs. Once or twice I have had to ask one of the guys in the wood shop a question and forgot my safety glasses. Three guys turn and shout at me, “safety glasses, Dana!” Busted!
Respect & Protect the Environment. Sustainability is not just another catch phrase at Rainier. In 2008, we formed a formal Environmental Management System and we are proud to be the only International Organization for Standardization – ISO 14001:2001 certified yurt manufacturer in the WORLD. We are continuously improving on our commitment to reduce waste, keep our utilities down, reduce product packaging, improve air quality, and encourage employees to carpool, ride their bike, and recycle in their personal lives.
I am so proud to be part of Rainier’s rich heritage. We are well aware that our past success doesn’t guarantee a future. That’s why these guiding business practices are our common denominator. They have served us well for the last 120 years as well as going forward to the next 100 years.
Enjoying this journey!